Hawilmis (“Chiefly Treasure”)
This “hawilmis” (“chiefly treasure” in the language of the Nuu-chah-nulth (Nootka) First Nation) was a gift given by the Nuu-chah-nulth people to Captain James Cook in 1779, during his third Pacific voyage. This was one of many Nuu-chah-nulth items Cook obtained during the two months he spent in what is now Nootka Sound, just offshore from the village of Yuquot (also known as “Friendly Cove”). The item, thought to have been carved sometime in the mid-1700s, is a ceremonial club made from Yew. It is a type of club that would have been used for halibut or small mammals.
After Cook’s death, Cook’s possessions were turned over to his wife. Later, in 1806, Cook’s family sold the club to the Leverian Museum in London. It then it passed through several private collections in Britain and the United States until 2012, when it was purchased by an arts foundation in Vancouver and donated to the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. (Apparently it went through 11 separate owners since it was acquired by Cook). The club is valued at $1.2 million and was one of the last privately-held object from Cook’s collection. While a number of Nuu-chah-nulth artifacts are on display in museums around the world, this is the first and only one on display in a museum in Canada.